Science through Second Life
“Science through Second Life” is an innovative new high school curriculum that will be prototyped by Global Kids, Inc. in New York City's High School for Global Citizenship (HSGC) to educate and inspire youth about science through the incorporation of the virtual world Second Life and related online media.
The project ran from January 30th through June 16th, 2008, taking place five days a week within HSGC's freshmen level Global Science class. As students learned a variety of digital literacy skills related to virtual worlds, blogging, online media production, and more, they were taken through a nineteen weeklong, interdisciplinary curriculum teaching the life and physical sciences. The project aimed to build students' confidence in their ability to "do science" by leveraging the constructivist and collaborative possibilities of virtual worlds.
More specifically, students learned science by investigating real life ecological problems through virtual world simulations that use real life data. Students observed, gathered, and analyzed data, drew conclusions, and proposed and created solutions to these problems. For instance, they explored the ecological ramifications of a virtual landfill, a virtual strip mine or oil field. They also explored and experimented in the atmosphere, taking virtual samples of air at different altitudes to better understand global warming. For their final project, the students designed and created their own virtual "green" house, applying what they had learned to a real life, authentic problem.
At the end of each marking period, assessments were conducted to evaluate students' achievement in the course. An evaluation performed to evaluate the efficacy of the curriculum for teaching science and developing digital literacy skills amongst urban youth. During the first third of the program, the students learned the basics of using a variety of digital media tools, such as Second Life, blogging, digital comic creation, and digital photo sharing, in relation to global and science issues. The second two thirds focused explicitly on science, covering the following subject mater:
Unit 1 - Sustainability
Unit 2 - Solid Waste
Unit 3 - Fossil Fuels
Unit 4 - Clean/Alternative energy
Unit 5 - Green building
Unit 6 - Student Final Projects (developed in Second Life)